Events 2015

Workshop: Perspectives on Artefacts

Date: 15 June 2015

Place: South Wing G12 Council Room, Institute of Education, University of London

The workshop is part of the Swedish–South African research initiation programme ‘Recycling and remixing practices of artefacts and texts’ (REPRACT) financed by The Swedish Foundation for International Cooperation in Research and Higher Education (STINT). The programme is coordinated by Anders Björkvall and Arlene Archer and involves PhD students as well as other researchers from Stockholm University and the University of Cape Town. The London workshop is the third and final in a series of workshops in which the first took place in Stockholm in May 2014 and the second in Cape Town in March 2015.

The London workshop hopes to engage researchers at different stages in their academic careers, from different research fields and with different fields of empirical research in a dialogue about artefacts. The focus of the workshop is directed toward the intersection of artefacts, communication, materiality and practice. This is of relevance to many fields where visual methods are employed, such as engineering, health sciences, architecture, education, museums, media and cultural studies, design and marketing. The workshop aims to investigate how the social world is constructed, represented and contested through material artefacts. It will explore possibilities in utilizing artefacts to theorize a range of issues, such as design, technology, commodification, embodiment, pedagogy and assessment. The workshop will interrogate theories and methodologies as well as their applications.

We envisage a highly informal and exploratory workshop. Some of the questions we will explore include: What are the methodological challenges when exploring artefacts? In what way is there a difference between analysing a visual representation of an artefact and the artefact itself? How does this relate to transcription? What is a digital artefact? How does it relate to materiality? How can artefacts be analysed as process rather than product? How do practices of ‘making’ shed light on resemiotization?


Event: Writer’s Workshop

Date: 1-3 June 2015

Place: Mont Fleur, Stellenbosch

Organised by Dr Lyn Holness from the UCT Research Office, the writers’ workshop aims to provide members of the SAME group an opportunity to work on articles for publication, thesis chapters and proposals. It offers an opportunity for members to peer review each other’s work, exchange and consolidate ideas.


Workshop: Materiality and Artefacts (Swedish-South African research initiation programme ‘Recycling and remixing  practices of artefacts and texts’ (REPRACT)

Date: 20 March 2015

Place: COL seminar room, 9:00-13:30pm

The workshop is part of the Swedish–South African research initiation programme ‘Recycling and remixing practices of artefacts and texts’ (REPRACT) financed by The Swedish Foundation for International Cooperation in Research and Higher Education (STINT). The programme is co-ordinated by Arlene Archer and Anders Björkvall. The Cape Town workshop is the second in a series of three workshops in which the first took place in Stockholm in May 2014 and the last will take place in London in June 2015.

The focus of social semiotics is directed toward the intersection of social practices and materiality (Björkvall and Karlsson, 2011). The workshop in Cape Town focuses on the semiotics of artefacts in education. It explores technologies of learning, resemiotization in relation to materiality, assessment of multimodal artefacts, objects as mediating learning, objects and critical commentary, and the display of artefacts. These issues are explored in a range of domains, including engineering, health sciences, architecture, primary school classrooms, museums, and the fields of design and marketing.

Click on link for programme details: SAME Materiality Workshop Programme


Subject: Education as a means for being a mother: Legitimate parenthoods in Sweden 1870-2010

Date: 18 March 2015

Place: COL seminar room, 2-4pm

Presenter: Gustav Westberg (Department of Swedish Language and Multilingualism, Stockholm University)

The presentation is based on my ongoing PhD-project Legitimate parenthoods 1870-2010 (Legitima föräldraskap 1870-2010), and aims to illustrate how a diachronic legitimation analysis of a specific topic can capture ideational change and continuity throughout history. The presentation furthermore aims to illustrate how a method drawn up for analysis of written texts can be applied multimodally.

The thesis is a discourse-historical study which aims to investigate what constitutes legitimized representations of parenthood in well-spread non-fictional Swedish texts from the end of the 19th century until today. Briefly, legitimations regulate practices and actions by posing answers to the spoken or unspoken question why should we do this in this way?. Legitimations are, for example, accomplished by reference to specific authorities or by representing practices and actions as rationally motivated (van Leeuwen, 2008). In a narrower sense, the study aims to pinpoint the subject positions, or ‘ways of being’ a parent (Baxter, 2003), that are legitimized during different historical, situational and social contexts.

The theoretical and methodological framework comes from critical discourse analysis (CDA), in particular from Leeuwen’s (2008) notion of discourse as representation of social practice The discourse-historical approach (Reisigl & Wodak, 2009) provides methodological tools for the historical analysis of discourses, whereas a feminist approach (Baxter, 2003) is applied for a non-binary analysis of the legitimized subject positions.

At the seminar at UCT I will present the main findings of the study with a particular focus on subject positions in which parenthood is construed as ‘educated’ and ‘highly sensitive to expert advice’. These positions are intertwined with different discourses and take on different properties in different historical contexts. For example, during the late 19th century, the discourse of the mother as the primary caretaker is invoked by the early Swedish women’s movement in order to legitimize claims for education and more prominent public positions for women. Education is legitimized as a rational means to facilitate women’s ability to fulfill the God-given calling as mothers.

In the mid of the 20th century however, the discourse of the mother as primary caretaker is articulated and legitimized mainly by scientific – mostly psychological and pedagogical – experts. Such institutional expert discourses also establish and legitimize a parental position in need of education, but in a very different way. Parenthood is represented as a scientific topic, and the scientific representation delegitimizes parenthood practiced on a common-sense basis.

During the same period, parenthood is also constituted by a ‘female consumer’ subject position, and expert authorities are frequently invoked in contemporary ads in order to legitimize consuming mothers.

At the seminar, I will use such ads as a springboard to present a multimodal expansion of van Leeuwen’s (2008) model for legitimation analysis. By drawing on empirical data I will illustrate how multimodal legitimation can be analyzed.


Baxter, Judith. 2003. Positioning Gender in Discourse: A Feminist Methodology. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

van Leeuwen, Theo. 2008. Discourse and Practice. New Tools for Critical Discourse Analysis. Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press.

Reisigl, Martin & Wodak, Ruth. 2009. The Discourse-Historical Approach (DHA). In: R. Wodak & M. Meyer (eds.): Methods of Critical Discourse Analysis. 2nd ed. London/Thousand Oaks /New Delhi: Sage